Arlene Ackerman took aim at the Philadelphia School District again on Thursday morning, suggesting that parents ought to pull their children out of failing public schools and "vote with their feet." She said she would stay in Philadelphia, at least temporarily, to give parents seminars on how to advocate for their children.
Vouchers, which many public education advocates strongly oppose, "may be an alternative," she said.
Ackerman made her comments in an explosive interview with WURD 900 AM.
She took aim at Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan, whom she said demanded that the district cancel most of the expansion of Promise Academies, district turnaround schools with extra resources. They were her signature initiative.
Jordan, she said, is beholden to his members, who pay dues. "These children pay dues," Ackerman said, "but it's a different kind of dues that they pay."
She also blasted district Chief Financial Officer Michael Masch.
"I never understood the numbers that I was given by my CFO," Ackerman said. She said she'd never had that problem before in other districts where she'd worked. She said she asked Masch to step down, and thought that was part of her undoing.
Ackerman said she was "in perfect peace."
"I feel like I was David against Goliath, and in this case, David didn't win," she said.
Ackerman has long said that she is an educator, not a politician, and on Thursday she said she fell out of favor with a small group of political people but still enjoys the support of most parents with children in district schools.
Of Acting Superintendent Leroy Nunery, who had been her deputy, she said, "I hope that he will do the right thing. He is a good man. Let’s see if he can withstand the pressure that will be put on him."
During her time in Philadelphia, "I've been asked to do things that are totally unconscionable," Ackerman said.
My colleague Troy Graham has Mayor Nutter's reaction to some of the statements Ackerman has made here. (Hint: the mayor said Ackerman is wrong.)